The levels of engagement in sport activity by partners and athletes in the teams of unified football during Special Olympics
Introduction: Unified Sports are the official programme of Special Olympics, which brings together people with intellectual disabilities (athletes) with their peers with no such disabilities (partners) in teams, in trainings and during competitions. The aim: The aim of this thesis is to evaluate the level of engagement in sport activity by partners and athletes in the teams of unified football programme during Special Olympics. Materials and methods: 206 participants - 113 athletes and 93 partners - from the teams of unified football programme took part in the research in Poland. The average age among the athletes was 15.5, and among the partners 15.7. The results obtained are just a fraction of deeper, international research done with the use of a questionnaire by the University of Ulster in 2009-2010. Results: All the people surveyed like taking part in both trainings and competitions. Around 70% like both of them a lot, 30% enjoy them a bit. In accordance with the answer to the question “How often did you try to do your best in a competition?” one can assume that all the people in the group were highly engaged in the game - 54% all the time, 46% sometimes. All the people questioned claim that their team is competitive - 51% believe it to be very competitive, 48% quite competitive. The partners believed that trainings were more challenging for the athletes than for them. Substantially more partners state that the athletes were doing their best in a competition when compared with the opinion of the athletes themselves. Conclusions: The results prove that the aims of the programme for Unified Sports are realized properly. The fact that all the participants find pleasure in doing sports and that they positively assess the competitiveness of their team explains why all of them are so engaged in sports activity. It means that the programme is really valuable and can develop in a positive way. Research on the motives of taking part in Unified Sports and relations between athletes and partners should, therefore, be continued.
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